In a willful attempt to incite further racial tensions in and around Ferguson, a resident of Tennessee has announced that he’s reached his crowdfunding goal of $3,000 to purchase and display a billboard using the conservative hashtag #HandsUpDontLoot. The meme, which was made popular by right-wing publication National Review, is a play on the popular Ferguson protest chant “Hands up! Don’t shoot!” that refers to witnesses stating that unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown had his hands up when Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson shot him.
Don Alexander of Brentwood, TN used the crowdfunding source IndieGoGo to raise the necessary funds to purchase a billboard for one month to display in the St. Louis area. Per his IndieGoGo page, a local billboard company has agreed to display the billboard and will charge $2,500 for 30 days. Alexander also states that others may charge less for the billboard. If so, and donations continue to come in, the billboard will stay up as long as possible. He also claims that the billboard company he is in agreement with needs to remain anonymous so as to not receive any threats.
Below is an excerpt from the page:
This crowdfunding campaign is for the purchase of a billboard in the Ferguson, MO area. The billboard will display black text on a white background with the text “#PantsUPDontLoot”. After some initial confusion we are working with other, undisclosed companies in the area that are willing to create and display this image. The funds collected from this campaign will be used to purchase this billboard for as long as possible. Lamar originally quoted us ~$2,500 for 1 month but others have come in under that amount. Whatever funds we receive will go directly to keeping the billboard campaign up as long as possible. If we come to an agreement with a company and can fund it for 3 months, 5 months, 7 months…, we will.
Alexander has also created a website, handsupdontloot.org, which appears to track media mentions and communications surrounding his billboard efforts.
As of Monday afternoon, Alexander had raised $3,086. It appears that the crowdfunding campaign may have gotten a boost when it was mentioned on the message board St. Louis CopTalk. Shortly after a message was placed on the board, Alexander met his goal and a supporter placed a comment on the IndieGoGo page saying “we did it!” According to the IndieGoGo page, the link to the page has been tweeted out over 200 times.
It remains to be seen if the billboard actually goes up. I find it hard to believe that an advertising company would actually risk the bad publicity that would come with agreeing to display such an incendiary advertisement. The company that agreed to do this would essentially be committing business suicide. Maybe they’d feel they could make up the amount of business they’d lose by bringing in the race-baiting conservative crowd, but I doubt that the amount of negative public attention the company would receive could be overcome.
Meanwhile, the area braces for the impact of the grand jury announcement on Wilson. Local activists and protest organizers have been holding classes to teach people proper ways to protest as well as providing medical training. If a non-indictment comes down, which is expected, protests will take place in three different locations: the Ferguson police station, Shaw neighborhood in St. Louis, and Clayton where the St. Louis County courthouse is located. In anticipation of a grand jury decision, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon announced a state of emergency on Monday in order to mobilize the National Guard.
Justin Baragona is the Managing Editor at Politicus Sports as well as Senior Editor at PoliticusUSA. He was a political writer for 411Mania.com before joining PoliticusUSA. Politically, Justin considers himself a liberal but also a realist and pragmatist. Currently, Justin lives in St. Louis, MO and is married. Besides writing, he also runs his own business after spending a number of years in the corporate world. You can follow Justin on Twitter either with his personal handle (@justinbaragona) or the Sports site’s (@PoliticusSports).